PNCR democratic culture augurs well for Guyana

The People’s National Congress Reform’ (PNCR) 20th biannual congress commences this week. It will culminate with the election of new office holders. Intensely competitive races for party chairman, vice chairmen and central executive members have therefore emerged. As one of the governing parties of our emergent oil producing country, the eyes of the world are on this event.

So long as the candidates respect the electoral process, each other, the party they represent, and the people of Guyana, and conduct themselves with integrity and the highest standards of decency, the party will emerge stronger, more democratic and united to commence the November 12, 2018 local government elections campaign and launch forward confidently to the 2020 general elections. Make no mistake about it; the end of congress rally is undoubtedly the commencement of the 2020 elections campaign.

All national positions within the party structure are open for elections. These include party leader, chairman, vice chairman and central executive committee member. As a ruling party, the entire leadership of the party is aging and dominated with the same faces for the past two decades. This is hardly a succession plan. Consequently, the faces of the newly elected office holders will telegraph to the world the direction and vision of the party for the next decade. Will there be stagnation or progression? Will the membership give the younger generation an opportunity to take up leadership roles in the party, and ultimately parliament and government? Time will tell.

With the exception of Dr. Mark Bynoe, recent appointments to party and governmental positions, including the recently appointed service commissions, have been frustratingly uninspiring. I stand at the top of the mountain, shouting to the leadership of the PNCR, and ringing the alarm bells loudly. You have walked away from the young people of Guyana whose, determination, vitality, energy and vote propelled you into office in 2015. It is time to move back, lest they move away from you in 2020.

I know what it is like to be given an opportunity to lead at a young age. At age 17, I was a leader in the party youth arm. By age 21, I was national secretary of the YSM, technical assistant to a minister of government and special assistant to the president of Guyana. These are the same opportunities the PNCR must now provide today’s youth.

I’m heartened to see Christopher Jones, Thandi McAllister and others run for vice chairman and other leadership positions in the party. It is refreshing and uplifting. The success of their candidature will inspire young professionals to join the party and help it grow and develop, and broaden the current governing coalition.

Politics is incongruous with stagnation. Its essence is winning, governing and implementing contemporary visions for the development of modern societies and advancement of our people. If the party as a governing political entity cannot enact genuine reforms to effect social transformation as well as economic and infrastructural development that engender prosperity for all, then its politics lack progression. Has the PNCR done so? How will the people judge its performance?

The time for new faces, fresh ideas and a bold new vision has come for the PNCR. The party cannot achieve a progressive politics to improve human conditions and take a giant leap into developed nation status with the same exhausted faces from the last two or three decades. It must now marshal new, experienced leaders and the brightest of our young professionals, and prepare them to lead the party and country into the new decade.

It is time for change. New faces, new ideas and a new vision will help realize the change the PNCR must have and that Guyana needs. New experienced leaders, coupled with bright, young minds will provide greater intellectual depth to design a new vision for the Party and country. This must be the charge to this 20th biennial congress.

The competitive races for office in the PNCR are healthy for democracy. The unprecedented, organized campaigning for office; with candidates meeting delegates to lay out their vision for the office they seek, is necessary and impressive. We must congratulate the PNCR for fostering this genuine, democratic culture. The fruits of this democratic culture augur well for the party’s future.

The party must therefore manage its elections professionally and with integrity. Give youth a chance. Harness new, experienced faces and articulate a bold new, vision to take Guyana and its people to developed nation status. This political renaissance will inspire confidence in the party, and fire up the electorate to entrust it with a continuous mandate to lead the country for decades to come.

Rickford Burke

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